Cover, « Russia go home », an Ukrainian lady in front of the Graslin Opera Theater, Nantes, 03/27/2022 – Photo: Bernard Grua
There are likely many people similar to the husband of the aggressive provocateur who raged during the Franco-Ukrainian demonstration in front of the Katorza movie theater on March 27, 2022. He wrote to me this morning asking me to remove the photos of his wife, from the album of the demonstration. On his Facebook page, this man takes up the language elements of the Kremlin while displaying a banner in the colors of Ukraine stating: “I stand with Ukraine”.
As if we did not have eight years to know this style of blackmail and manipulation.
There must be a number of them in the “Coordination for Peace” – a heterogeneous conglomeration of associations, political parties and unions – which is demonstrating next Saturday, again in the name of Ukraine. However, none of the parties or associations represented there opposed, in 2014-2015, the delivery of the Mistral Vessels, with the notable exception of Yannick Jadot from « Europe Ecology – The Greens » party, whose members of the Municipal Council of St Nazaire (town of Mistrals shipyard) were the only ones to have taken a stand against these invasion monsters. Remember that, at best, the others did not speak out, when they did not explicitly support Putin until February 2022. Is this a real U-turn? Allow me to doubt it. Is it just opportunism? I’m not sure. It could be worse than that.
Thus, the leader of the « Coordination for Peace », François Preneau, former CGT (communist) union leader, asked me twice not to publish our petition. He also went to the Franco-Ukrainian Association Tryzub to ask them, too, to not demonstrate in front of the Katorza movie theater. On these three occurrences, he explicitly threatened to make our committee, for the cancellation of the Russian Festival “From Lviv to the Urals”, and the Tryzub Association looking like extremists if we did not comply with his demand. The formula is now widely used. As if did not have eight years to experience this style of blackmail and manipulation. As if we did not learn to resist and counter the Kremlin’s propaganda in its various forms, whether pushed directly, handled by proxies or being part of the « background noise » and rumours constructed from scratch or naively taken up.
Let’s unconditionnaly support Ukrainian artists, who claim the right to the existence of their culture, in complete rupture with what is commonly called “Russian culture”.
In this war, it is however simple, for once, to identify who is the aggressor and who is the attacked. It is a little more complicated, but it is still possible, for those who want to make this effort, to verify that the substrate for this invasion is the assertion that Ukraine and Russia would be just one. Therefore, we understand that the representatives of Ukrainian culture want to put an end to this imperialist and colonialist doxa justifying aggression, including on the part of those who say they oppose it. Let us take the time to listen to the Ukrainian people who suffer in their flesh. Let’s not indulge in a victim inversion. Let us unconditionally support Ukrainian artists, who are claiming the right to the existence of their culture, in a complete rupture with what is commonly called « Russian culture » and out of the grasp of its agents of influence, whatever their intentions may be.
In order to get out of a deadly multi-centennial scheme, brought to its paroxysm since February 24, 2022, Ukrainian culture cannot and must not coexist with Russian culture, in the same space and during the same event. It is a basic prophylaxis. Our committee was calling just for that. Take a good look at our petition. At no time have we spoken about a general boycott of Russian films as Macha Milliard, Univerciné, the Kartoza movie theater and their friends for Russian « soft power » falsely present. If they want to continue to collaborate and broadcast the films of a country that is committing the worst violence ever perpetrated in Europe since the Second World War, that remains their choice. Later, it will be their shame and the one of those who supports them. But it won’t be ours.
Ukrainian culture is a culture of peace, resistance and dignity, rooted in civilized and European values from which we, the French, could fruitfully be rejuvenated.
Russian culture, including among the most « moderate » (sometimes without even knowing this country), is an imperialist, colonialist and warmongering culture with a revisionist writing of history while practicing the negation of the very existence of Ukraine.
It is up to us not to confuse or merge these two cultures that everything opposes.
Support Ukrainian resistance!
No to Russian propaganda!
Bernard Grua, Commitee for the cancelation of the Russian Film Festival, « From Lviv to the Urals ».
Nantes, Bretagne – March 31, 2022
- Denis Ivanov to Nantes Mayor about “freedom of circulation of works and ideas” in her city
- Letter from Ukrainian Film State Agency to Johanna Rolland, Nantes Mayor and Nantes Metropolis President, and to the organisers prohibiting Ukrainian films to be screened in the same events than Russian ones.
- Letter to Katorza movie theater from Denis Ivanov, the producer of « Donbass » movie, refusing to have his film screened during the Russian Film Festival.
- Letter from Lviv Mayor to the organisers, refusing to have the name of his city instrumented by the Russian Film Festival.
- Petition from the commitee against the Russian Film Festival « From Lviv to the Urals. » (FR/UA/EN)
- Letter from the Franco-Ukrainian association Tryzub to the organizers of the Russian film festival
Denis Ivanov to Nantes Mayor about “freedom of circulation of works and ideas” in her city
Kyiv, 31st of March 2021
To: Joanna Rolland, Mayor of Nantes
From: Denis Ivanov, Ukrainian film producer of the films “The Tribe” by Myroslav Slaboshpytskyi, “Donbas” by Sergey Loznitsa,“Rhino” by Oleg Sentsov, co-founder of Odesa International Film Festival
Dear Ms. Rolland,
I would like to agree with the words of Mr. Aymeric Seassau, Nantes deputy mayor in charge of Culture, who, as reported by Ouest France newspaper (228/03/2022 at 20:43) says: “In Nantes, there can be no question of banning or boycotting any culture whatsoever!… The freedom of circulation of works and ideas is not negotiable.»
Multiple initiatives – from the Ukrainian State Film Agency to Ukrainian NGO’s proposed to the Mayor and to the Katorza film theatre to hold the festival of recent Ukrainian Films. There was no answer to these proposals. The boycott.
I, the Ukrainian producer of DONBAS, on behalf of the Ukrainian team of the movie was demanding the organizers of the Russian festival « Univercine: from Lviv to Ourals » exclude our Ukrainian film from the program. However, the organizers tried to boycott our request and program the film at the festival until it was canceled.
Current Nantes local leader of the « Coordination for peace » François Preneau twice demanded the writers of the petition against the « Lviv to Urals » festival not to publish it. He also visited the Franco-Ukrainian Association Tryzub demanding that it will not perform manifestation in front of the Katorza movie theater.
I would not describe our Nantes experience as “freedom of circulation of works and ideas”.
My country now is going through a war with Russia. I’m writing these words and hearing the bombs’ explosions in Kyiv. For Ukrainians, there is no space for compromise between “exist” and “not “exist”. Pause in promotion of Russian culture (until Russian troops are in Ukrainian land) was supported by the European Film Academy, a number of festivals, and filmmakers from all over the world. If all kinds of sanctions together (including cultural ones) would be implemented 8 years ago, Ukraine would not face horrible war now.
I’m attaching the picture of the billboard with the advertisement for the great Ukrainian film STOP-ZEMLIA by Kateryna Gornostai (Crystal Bears in Berlinale’s Generation), taken in Kyiv street two weeks ago, after the missile attack of the Russian army.
“Because we trust the intelligence of spectators and because we need cinema, films, and theaters to understand the world” I hope Nantes authorities and cultural workers would hear Ukrainian voices and stop boycotting Ukrainian initiatives and Ukrainian culture.
Best regards, Denis Ivanov